Higher education institutions increase nursing degree apprenticeships

The number of people set to embark on nursing degree apprenticeships this year has increased since last September’s slow start 

The number of people set to embark on nursing degree apprenticeships this year has increased since last September’s slow start 

Private university BPP surveyed NHS trusts over the use of apprenticeships
Picture: Alamy

The government aims to eventually have around 1,000 apprentices in training per year to become nurses, but when the scheme was first launched last autumn just 30 people started a course at Anglia Ruskin University.

Since then, ten more higher education institutions have had three or four-year nurse degree apprenticeships approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Backed by Jeremy Hunt

During the Chief Nursing Officer for England’ Summit in Liverpool, the health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt championed the route into nursing for those who wish to ‘earn while they learn’.

New research out today has shown NHS trusts seem to be embracing apprenticeships more, including the nursing associate apprenticeship, which is aimed at providing healthcare assistants with an enhanced career path.

A survey by private university BPP, with support from Health Education England and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, revealed 95% of trusts plan to make use of the apprenticeship levy – a pot of money set aside by the government to pay for training and contributed to by large employers.


BPP director of nursing and healthcare education Lynne Gell said it was good to see so many in the health service embrace apprenticeships with enthusiasm.

‘Not only are NHS employers converting many of their non-clinical training roles into apprenticeships, the vast majority are also exploring programmes in clinical roles, such as nursing apprenticeships.

Just as importantly, trusts are using the opportunity the levy presents to upskill colleagues who may not have had training opportunities before,' she said.

For survey, researchers polled 175 trusts – approximately three-quarters of those in England.

Four fifths of respondents (79%) said they planned to expand their number of apprenticeship programmes, with 85% planning to run nursing degree apprenticeships.

Internal candidates focus

In contrast to employers outside the health sector, BPP said NHS trusts are focusing most of their levy funds on internal rather than external candidates.

Cambridge University Hospitals Trust (CUH) recently announced a partnership with Anglia Ruskin University to adopt the new four-year apprenticeship scheme.

Successful applicants will receive £15,404 a year, have tuition fees paid by the trust and will qualify with a BSc (Hons) Nursing Degree with a job at CUH.

They will balance working at CUH in their current role, with the standard number of required academic and placement hours expected of nurses on traditional degree courses.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cumbria have also announced a partnership to provide the four-year nursing degree apprenticeship.

More than 100 people applied for 25 places, with the bulk being healthcare assistants, who will continue to work in their roles alongside their academic studies and placements.

The Open University has also been approved to run nurse apprenticeship degree courses and had planned to run two cohorts this year, with one starting last month.

A university spokesperson said: 'Apprentices will, on average, spend two days a week on practice learning, one day a week on protected study time and two days a week undertaking duties in their employment setting.'

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